Will Windows 7's Higher Cost Hinder Adoption?

Believe it or not, Windows 7 is about to take the computing world by storm. If all goes to plan, we'll see Microsoft's latest (and hopefully greatest) OS on store shelves by the time 2009 draws to a close, but it remains to be seen who all will be jumping to upgrade. According to Darrel Ward, director of product management for Dell's business client product group, he's not so sure that folks will be waiting with credit cards out to jump on the next-gen bandwagon.

In a recent phone interview, he was quoted as saying that if there is "one thing that may influence adoption, make things slower or cause customers to pause, it's that generally the ASPs (average selling price) of the operating systems are higher than they were for Vista and XP." Of course, we're not shocked to hear that Windows 7 will be priced higher than Vista, but considering just how gun-shy consumers are after Vista's generally poor showing compared to XP, it's not exactly a kind gesture on Microsoft's part.

Ward continued by noting: "In tough economic times, I think it's naive to believe that you can increase your prices on average and then still see a strong swell than if you held prices flat or even lowered them. I can tell you that the licensing tiers at retail are more expensive than they were for Vista." He specifically proclaimed that Windows 7 Professional is expected to be more expensive than Windows Vista Business, which Win7 Pro is replacing. When it comes to schools and small businesses, many are apt to hold tight rather than become an early adopter. He suggested that some of those "may not be able to afford (the additional cost)," thus forcing them to wait on enjoying some of Windows 7's nice new features.

To be fair, Windows 7 does have momentum on its side. RC1 has been generally smiled upon, and many are eager to wash their hands of Vista's quirks and move on to a more solid, reliable OS. The question is: are they eager enough to shell out comparatively big bucks in order to make it happen?